Scientifically named as Spheniscus demersusb, the African penguin is one of the native species of the fauna of the south-western coast of the African continent. ‘Black-footed penguin’ is another name for it. And in case you did not know, this flightless bird is also known as the ‘Jackass penguin’. Why? Well, it brays in the same way as the donkey does. An average adult can grow up to 68 – 70 cm, that is 26.7 – 27.5 inches. And, 4 and 12 pounds is the measure between which the bird can weigh. One can easily identify this creature, given its black stripe and black spots on the chest or the belly. What is interesting about these spots is that their pattern is unique for each penguin, like our fingerprints are. So no African penguin can get away with a crime! Jokes apart, coming back to another interesting fact about this penguin, it is about its eyes. Well, not exactly about its eyes, but some pink glands above them. The function of these glands is to cool down the bird when it gets hotter. What happens is, on a hot day, the blood rushes to this gland to help the bird cool down by the surrounding air. That is why, the hotter the day is, the more pink these parts become.
This species, as already mentioned, is an endemic species of the south-western coast of Africa. These birds spend most of their time in the sea, foraging. And when the breeding or molting season is on the run, they form colonies on the rocky shores. One important fact is about the distances these birds can cover on a single trip. It is about 75 miles.
When it comes to feeding, this bird is known as an opportunistic hunter. It feeds on a wide variety of fish, with squid, sardines, anchovies, pilchards, crustaceans, horse mackerel, and round herrings.
If we are to believe from the experiences of many tourists, the African penguin is one of the calmest species of penguins. Interaction with this bird is relatively easier. For communicating with other members in its group, it makes use of its donkey-like brays.
Some More Facts
- The U.S. Endangered Species Act has listed this penguin as an endangered species of the world. The population of these birds is dwindling with time, due to increased commercial fishing, and global warming, and also due to the use of its eggs as one of the many foods sources in the area.
- The ideal season for breeding for the bird comes in early February. However, breeding can occur at any time of the year.
- At 4 years of age, the penguin is said to have reached its maturity.
- While feeding, the penguin is known to dive up to 200 feet below the surface.
- After the young are born, parents take care of them for an additional 60 – 120 days. Once a juvenile learns to fend for itself, it can go into the sea for foraging. Now, how soon can the baby can do so, depends upon the type of nutrition it receives from its parents.
- One fun fact about this penguin species is about its vocalization. Large colonies can be deafening if they start braying at the same time.
- Natural nemesis of this bird include sharks, large seals, and orcas. Kelp gulls, mongoose, genet, etc., are the enemies on land.
- Under water, it can hold its breath for an average of 2.5 minutes, and 15 mph is the speed with which it can travel.
To conclude, 10 years is the life span of this bird in the wild. If you come across more of such facts about the African penguin, then feel free to let us know via the comment box. Mah krow!